Early club history

On the occasion of our 400th meeting of the Hillside Coin Club, David S., the last original member of the Hillside Coin Club, wrote the following outline of the pre-history the early history of the club.

The Hillside Coin Club, 400 Meetings Later

By David S.

First, let me congratulate the club on its 400th meeting. I am the only remaining original member still associated with the club. But it is only through the tireless efforts of many volunteers and collectors through the years that the club has thrived. Obviously the numismatic seed was planted on fertile soil.

The beginnings of the HCC, as I recall it, started with a conversation I had with Thomas Michell at a Chicago Coin Club meeting. He expressed an interest in starting a club in Hillside. Tom managed or owned Richard's Lilac Lodge, at the northeast corner of Wolf and Cermak Roads. We organized a National Coin Week meeting for April 19, 1982, held at the Lilac Lodge. Speakers were Len Stanek, a dealer; Harry Flower, a collector of Einstein numismatics; and Lee Bodon, a young numismatist. Attendance was good, and participants expressed an interest in a forming a club.

The subsequent May 11 organizing meeting had eight participants at the Lilac Lodge. Attendees besides Tom and me were Lee Bodon, Eddie Randell, Bob Fantl, Scott Fantl, Len Stanek, and Harry Leskauskas. I recall that Eddie, Len, and perhaps Harry were coin dealers. Bob was with a local newspaper and Scott was his adult son. At this meeting the group agreed to start the Hillside Coin Club, and to serve in various roles until a club election. Len Stanek was selected acting chairman. The board of directors included Scott, Ed, Bob, Harry Leskauskas, and me. Lee was to handle finances, and I was secretary. I was involved in writing the club constitution and a swearing-in oath for new officers. Tom reserved membership number 1 for himself.

Also at the May 11 meeting, the HCC constitution, articles one to five, was approved, as was the HCC statement of principals, and the bylaws. An Illinois form applying non-profit status was signed, and federal non-profit forms were to be pursued. The adult membership fee was set at $5 a year, with a $5 application fee. Meetings were to be held Monday nights at 7:30. Tom guaranteed the club a free room for a year. Overall, a productive meeting.

The club proceeded to meet monthly beginning in June. The Lodge was a formal dining establishment, with flocked wallpaper, entertainers and, oddly, a wall of guns on display. A club highlight was always the annual banquets, at which there were souvenir items and a auction of donated numismatics and other goods. These traditions continue to this day. Unfortunately, National Coin Week events publicized and open to the public eventually ceased.

After several years, Tom moved to Florida, while the club continued to thrive. For a while meetings were held at the Hillside Library. Meetings then moved to the lower level of the Hillside police station. We now have our nice digs in the recreation building. I think we need to be appreciative of the Village of Hillside for the accommodations it has provided us over the years.

Looking back, I am amazed and pleased that this organization, in which I had a small part in starting, is still a forum and meeting place for numismatists of all types. Many volunteer-based organizations in the last 33 years have withered as people have stopping being “joiners” and have taken to “cocooning.” This is especially true of younger people. It is my hope that when they are ready to move on from their state quarter collections, these closet collectors will find a hearty welcome from the Hillside Coin Club.

What is your story about the club? Maybe you have something interesting about the club or about your collecting that you would like to share with the your fellow members and the HCC’s World Wide Web presence. Write it and give it to an officer.

Go to Hillside Coin Club page